Our Guide to California Adventures Like a Grown Up

Thanks for joining SoCal Style for this look at California Adventure for grown ups. If you missed out on last week’s post, Grown-Up’s Guide to Disneyland, be sure to check it out here. Disney’s California Adventures lends itself really well to a grown up Disney day. On opening day the park was a bit of a miss-match, but it’s come along way and is final defining itself as a grown-up park. Today you’ll find lots of big-kid rides and experiences that young kids just can’t fully appreciate. Disney‘s California Adventure is also home to more single rider lines than any other park – so be sure to take advantage of it! Here’s our guide to the grown up attractions at California Adventures.

Grown Up Rides

At the top of our to-do list is, of course, the rides! Sure, there’s a lot to love about Disney parks, but let’s be honest. It’s all about the rides and California Adventures has some of the best.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel


Commonly referred to as Mickey’s Fun Wheel of Death, this ride is one that would have most kids screaming. It’s known to even make a few adults scream as well. While there is a portion of the ride that is a normal, albeit over-sized, ferris wheel. But, there’s also a secondary set of carts that will give you an extra bit of thrill. That’s because these swinging gondolas hang from their own oval shaped track, as the wheel rotates gravity does it’s thing and swings your cab along the track. Take a step back and watch the carts for a few minutes before you make your decision.



The formerly California Screamin’ is opening soon as the Incredicoaster, which will run on the same track but have elements that call back to the Incredibles franchise.  This ride is unlike the other coasters you’ll find across the street at Disneyland because it goes upside down. It’s actually one of the very few Disney coasters with a loop. Put your big girl-or-boy pants on and go for a spin!

Toy Story Midway Mania!


While our east coast friends are getting an entire Toy Story Land, we’ve still got a few Buzz and Woody attractions of our own. One of them is next door at Disneyland, but Toy Story Midway Mania is like the new upgraded version. You board the ride in carts of 4, each seat equipped with an interactive shooter. The ride track takes you through a series of screens, each one displaying a different game. Using the shooter attached to you car you get to play along and challenge the rest of your group! It’s fun for all ages!

Soarin’ Around the World


A groundbreaking technological feat when it opened, Soarin’ Around the World is still a marvel. It uses a new type of simulator combined with an Imax style screen to take you on a global tour. The ride vehicles rise into the air and give you a feeling of weightlessness as you hang glide through different countries. In true Disney fashion, scents are pumped into the theater to match your current location. Disney may be expensive, but it’s still cheaper than a ticket to Paris.

Radiator Springs Racers


This one is literality high octane – because it’s cars, get it?! Radiator Spring Racers is a great all around ride, but the line is always long. What makes this a grown-up ride is that grown-ups can go single rider. There’s still a wait, but it is considerably less than standby and the attraction is worth the wait. Don’t miss out on this must do!

Animation Academy


You’ve probably walked right by this on your way to our next attraction and never thought twice. It’s a fun experience though, especially if you’ve made a few stops at the grown-up restaurants. The attraction isn’t one to try and fit into an already busy day, but if you’re up for single rider lines you shouldn’t have that issue. Bonus points because you get to take your drawing home as a free souvenir.

Mission: Breakout!


One of the most grown-up rides at the park is Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! You’ll enter into the very instagram worthy collector’s room, filled with all kinds of fun props from the franchise. There’s even a few easter eggs, in true Disney fashion, including an homage to Figment! Then you’ll be loaded onto a ride vehicle and shot sky high, literally, followed by a series of sporadic drops. This is definitely a thrill ride and not for the faint of heart.

Grizzly River Run


Arguably the best single rider line at the Disneyland resort. This white water rapids style ride is the perfect way to cool off on a hot day, which also means crazy long line. Everyone will enjoy this ride, but again if you are with little tykes you won’t want to separate. But when you’re adulting at Disney the single rider queue is your best friend. You could hop on and off this ride at least 4 times via SR in the time it would take to get through the standby. Also, the ride vehicles seat 8, so there’s still a pretty good chance that you’ll get to sit with someone from your group.

Meet Oswald the Lucky Rabbit on Buena Vista Street

Rarely are character meet and greets included on these type of posts. Which I can understand, the lines are long and the pay off is usually minimal. But Oswald is the original Disney cartoon, before Mickey was even a mouse! How can you not?! PLUS most of the kids have no idea who he is, so they just keep walking by. Take a quick detour in your day and say high to Oswald!

Food and Drinks for Grown Ups

I know we’re going to hear about this one, but one of the most grown-up things about California Adventures is the bars!! YES! You can drink at Disney! Which a lot of people are upset about, but I’m not on that team. Disney bars are better than normal bars, not just because they’re inside the park but because the food, drinks, and theming is better. Honestly after a short break at one of these stops, any ride in the park is going to be a good time. Pixar pier looks a lot more like Paradise through rosé colored glasses.

Wine Country Trattoria


Located in the Pacific Wharf area of the park Wine Country Trattoria is a secluded outdoor restaurant themed around Napa Valley. Along with some delicious Tuscan entrees and appetizers is a selection of wine flights. Which is a fancy name for wine tasting. It’s a great spot to people watch as everyone funnels into Carsland.

Mendocino Terrace

Just around the corner is Mendocino Terrace, a wine lover’s paradise. With over 40 different varieties available, this spot is perfect for a sip!

Cove Bar/Lamplight Lounge


The Cove Bar was located on the bridge between Pacific Wharf and Paradise (soon to be Pixar) Pier. It was recently closed and will re-open as the Lamplight Lounge. We don’t know a lot about the Lamplight Lounge, except that some fan favorites from the Cove will be returning. With a spectacular view of the Paradise Bay and Mickey’s Fun Wheel,  you can’t go wrong. Hopefully this new stop will be as amazing as it’s predecessor.

Carthay Circle Lounge


You can find this one right smack dab at the front of the park in the middle of Buena Vista street. Most people are familiar with the Carthay Circle Restaurant, but it so expensive. If you can fit it into your grown-up Disney day then I highly recommend. But for those of us on a tighter budget there is the Carthay Circle Lounge. This upscale offering has a selection of hand crafted cocktails and delectable bites. Really snacking and sharing is the way to go at all of California Adventures (there’s too much good food to eat it all!) but even more so at Carthay Circle Lounge. Pull up a chair and enjoy the fanfare.

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What’s your must do for a grown-up day at California Adventures?

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